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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 25/12

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Post-APEC opportunity for Vietnam’s industries

More than 150 business leaders have gathered at a conference held on December 19 in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss the orientations of Vietnam’s industries after the APEC Vietnam 2017.

Hosted by SCG, one of the leading conglomerates of the ASEAN, the conference aims to summarise the key resolutions of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC)’s meeting during the APEC 2017 in Vietnam and highlight its impact on the growth of key industries in Vietnam.

According to Hoang Van Dung, chairman of ABAC Vietnam, the ABAC meetings were concluded with numerous recommendations to APEC leaders to foster regional business progress.

“The recommendations focus on promoting regional integration and removing protectionist barriers to facilitate business development and investment; addressing climate change and the energy framework; the importance of sustainability and inclusive development; and supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises in finance and technologies, with vision until 2020 and onwards. These proposals, once put into action, will directly impact local businesses,” Dung said.

The conference has also provided suggestions on how companies in Vietnam could grab these opportunities to grow their businesses inclusively and sustainably.

Especially, SCG—as the leader in building materials, packaging and the plastic industry—provided top-line insights in these sectors, with practical recommendations for local businesses.

“This year, following ABAC’s resolutions in strategic issues including inclusive development and sustainability, this conference was organised for the country’s business leaders to discuss the specific impacts of these trends on Vietnam’s industries. These insights will hopefully support local businesses to plan ahead for future challenges,” said Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Vietnamese pig farmers losing to foreign rivals on home soil

The Vietnamese pig industry is currently a picture of contrast, with domestic farmers struggling against thriving foreign entities.

A sad Tet, or Lunar New Year, is looming for Vietnamese pig farmers as prices continue to fall, meaning local producers are often working at a loss.

Live pig prices now oscillate at around VND27,000 (US$1.2) per kg and show no signs of recovery, rubbing salt into the wounds of local pig farmers.

Nguyen Xuan Ha, who runs a herd of 2,500 swine in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, currently incurs more than VND300 million (US$13,170) in losses on a monthly basis.
Live swine prices began to decline in October 2016, and Ha has been forced to sell at under cost for the last ten months in a row.

“This translates to a total loss of more than VND3 billion [US$131,700],” he said.

He supplies 450 live pigs to the market for slaughter every month, and has had to cut every possible cost to control his losses.

“I wash the pigs every three days, instead of two days, and feed them twice a day, rather than all day as before,” he elaborated.

Ha also has to take risks by reducing the number of vaccine injections his pigs receive.

Millions of local pig farm owners across Vietnam are suffering from the same hardship, and are hoping for nothing but a price recovery.

Many have already given up and scaled down their farms.

In Dong Nai Province, which neighbors and mostly provides pork for Ho Chi Minh City, the total pig herd as of the end of last month had been 1.7 million, which represents a drop of 500,000 animals from the peak period of this year.

Nationally, total pig herd numbers slipped 6.2% from 2016 to 27.3 million animals, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Contrary to the tough times being experienced by local farmers, foreign-invested companies have been able to maintain their herds, or even grow them, in recent times.

Tran Van Quang, head of the Dong Nai animal health department, said foreign firms with complete production lines and technology adaption can avoid losses on the currently low-priced pig market.

“It’s also possible that they want to take advantage of this low, while local farmers have ‘surrendered,’ and dominate the market,” he said.

Tran Dinh Thuc, director of an animal feed company in Dong Nai, echoed Quang’s view, recalling a similar situation that occurred in Vietnam’s chicken industry more than ten years ago.

At that time, when chicken prices slumped, foreign companies made up only 20%-30% of the market.

However, foreign players took advantage of the chance to increase their scale and eventually dominate, after Vietnamese farmers either shut down their production or switched to working as an outsourcing facility for their foreign rivals.

“It cannot be ruled out that foreign companies are applying the same scenario in order to manipulate pig prices and dominate the market,” Thuc said.

However, a business manager of one foreign husbandry company said foreign players are not to blame.

He said it was an unavoidable trend for the pig industry to change from small-scale, household farms to larger-scale operators.

The market has become more competitive with the participation of major foreign companies and big local corporations, he added.

The manager said foreign companies had expanded their herds during the time of low prices because “the expansion was part of their long-term business plan approved three to four years earlier.”

He added that foreign companies have accepted losses in order to expand their scale and also hope to see prices recover to make up for these losses.

Vietnam’s seafood industry reacts to ‘yellow card’ from EU

Despite the European Commission having given Vietnam’s seafood industry a ‘yellow card’ in October – a warning to countries involved in illegal fishing – Vietnamese seafood exporters believe they can have the decision revoked, and avoid a more serious ‘red card.’

While seafood exporters try to help themselves, the whole industry, from the national seafood association to provincial authorities, are also working to improve the situation.

All of them are working against the clock, as it has been two months into the six-month window Vietnam is given to fix its seafood export issues.

The ‘yellow card’ is a warning given by the European Commission to any “non-cooperating country” in its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing worldwide.

The warning to Vietnam was based on the country “not doing enough to fight illegal fishing.”

The country currently lacks both an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities, and adequate actions to address illegal fishing conducted by Vietnamese vessels in non-Vietnamese waters.

“Furthermore, Vietnam has an inadequate system of control over fish that are processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU,” the commission said.

After the six-month period of the ‘yellow card,’ if significant progress is made, the ‘yellow card’ will be lifted, and replaced with a ‘green card,’ representing legal export status.

If not, a ‘red card’ will be given, meaning that Vietnam will be banned from exporting its seafood to the European Union.

The EU currently accounts for 16-17 percent of Vietnam’s seafood exports, making it a market Vietnam can’t afford to lose.

Cao Thi Kim Lan, general manager of Bidifisho, a local seafood firm, has warned that any ‘red card,’ if enforced, may lead to other large importers, including the U.S. and Japan, turning their back on Vietnamese seafood.

Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, chairman of the seafood committee under the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the business community is well aware of the challenge they face, and are actively cooperating with authorities to solve the problem together.

One practical solution is to ‘say no’ to catches from illegal or unlicensed fishing boats, those that use banned equipment or illegal methods for their catches and those that fail to prove the origin of their products, Sac said.

“We also need to say no to rare and precious aquatic species, and seafood that is undersize,” she added.

Nearly 80 seafood exporters have signed up to join the VASEP campaign, and the association has also set up websites, in both English and Vietnamese, to publicize their efforts in having the ‘yellow card’ lifted.

Coimex, a seafood exporter based in the southern coastal city of Vung Tau, sells 40% of its domestically sourced products to the EU, earning $10 million in annual revenue.

The company’s operations are yet to be impacted by the ‘yellow card,’ but chairman Le Van Khang is concerned that a ‘red card’ is inevitable if no improvements are made.

“A red card means Vietnamese seafood will be banned from entering the EU,” he said. “What will be the fate of my hundreds of employees then?”

Tran Van Dung, general director of Baseafood, said that in the immediate term, the company would protect itself by putting more focus on the origin of the products it sources.

During the six-month ‘yellow card’ period, the country will have 100 percent of its shipments to the EU held for inspection before clearing customs.

“If we fail to carefully check the origin of our products, we will face export turnarounds by the EU immediately,” he said.

The EU makes up 30 percent of the export turnover of Baseafood, earning it some $10 million a year.

Khang, the chairman of Coimex, said businesses trying to ‘rescue’ themselves is one thing, but authorities should also do their part.

It is not impossible to stop Vietnamese fishermen from engaging in illegal fishing if local authorities and relevant authorities get more serious in their management.

Citing the European Commission’s statement, Khang said Vietnam’s problems begin with the lack of “an effective sanctioning system” to deter IUU fishing activities, and the country’s failure to take “adequate action” in addressing ongoing illegal fishing activities.

“The EU warned Vietnam before it actually handed out the ‘yellow card,’ but we still let it happen,” he said.

“The problem can only be properly resolved if top officials in each province take responsibility.”

Dung, general director of Baseafood, suggested that local authorities and relevant agencies cooperate in expediting certificates of origin on seafood products, which currently takes more than ten days.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy general secretary of VASEP, put the emphasis on building a workable database of seafood’s origin, as recommended by the EU.

Vietnam currently has 28 coastal provinces and cities, each of which has their own database of fishing activity.

“The business community hopes that these databases are well developed and can be connected to the national database, so it will be easy to check fishing registrations and trace seafood origin,” Nam said.

While it’s the fishermen themselves who undertake the illegal activities, some say it’s not a deliberate act to violate other countries’ sovereign waters.

In September 2017, Do Thanh Dat, from the south-central province of Binh Dinh, was captaining a boat with 11 fishermen aboard in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spartly) archipelago, when the sea turned rough. 

The location’s deep water prevented Dat from anchoring and strong winds blew them into Brunei waters before they could act.

“Brunei forces captured us quickly and penalized us for violating their fishing waters,” Dat recalled.

The captain was sentenced to ten months behind bars, while the crew members each served one month and paid cash fines, he added.

Dat said fishermen have been told not to go fishing in the waters of other countries, but this is easier said than done.

“When you are in the middle of the sea, you can’t tell each country’s waters apart,” he said.

Many Vietnamese fishing boats are not equipped with devices to identify the overlapping maritime territories and fishermen end up violate foreign waters unknowingly.
Fishermen’s commitment

Vietnamese fishermen acknowledge that the EU’s ‘yellow card’ is not something that only seafood exporters should lose sleep over.

“If the EU stops importing seafood from Vietnam, fishermen will be impacted as they will be left with no choice but to sell their catches to China at a cheaper price,” Nguyen Van Manh, a fisherman from Vung Tau with 45 years of experience, said.

Nguyen Van Thu, from the central province of Quang Ngai, has been arrested for illegally fishing in both Australia and Palau.

“I have signed a written guarantee not to violate foreign waters,” he said.

In fact, Thu said he had built a new boat and will now “fish nowhere but in Vietnamese waters.”

Nguyen Tan Hai, another Quang Ngai fishing boat captain who has served jail time in New Caledonia, signed a similar guarantee and promised himself and local authorities “not to repeat such a mistake”.

Ninh Thuan aims to become renewable energy centre


Boasting huge potential for renewable power development, the south central coastal province of Ninh Thuan is working to lure investments in the sector, aiming to become Vietnam’s clean energy centre.

The province is relatively safe from storm while boasting good wind resources with wind speed of between 6.4-9.6 metres per second for 10 months a year, which is a favourable condition for developing wind energy. 

Surveys show 14 wind potential areas of about 8,000 hectares, mainly in three districts of Ninh Phuoc, Thuan Nam and Thuan Bac. 

Besides, the locality also holds good solar energy potential as it has average sunshine hours of 2,600-2,800 per year, with solar radiation at 320 kcal/cm2 per year.

Ninh Thuan already has its local master plan on wind power development from 2011-2020 with a vision to 2030 approved by the Minister of Industry and Trade, which designates five potential zones with total area of 21,432 ha for wind power with projected total capacity of 1,429 MW and solar projects with total capacity of 4,848 MW by 2030.

The province is finalizing a master plan for solar energy from 2016 to 2020 with a vision to 2030, which aims to generate around 2,000MW of electricity by 2020. 

Incentives in terms of corporate income tax and land use fees have been taken by the province to lure investments.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham Van Hau said that the province always encourages and creates favourable conditions for investors to carry out renewable energy projects in the locality.

The province has so far granted investment licences to eight wind power projects valued at more than 19.7 trillion VND (867.3 million USD). Construction is underway at four projects with total capacity of 208 MW.

Late this year and on the outset of 2018, construction will begin on six solar energy projects, including 50MW Thien Tan plant, 50 MW My Son plant, Bau Ngu Lake solar power farm, 168 MW CMX Renewable Vietnam Plant, 50 MW Phuoc Huu plant and 50 MW SP Infra 1 plant.

Once becoming operational, the projects will make significant to ensuring national power security, reducing negative impacts on the environment while creating jobs for local labourers.-

VN, India explore trade ties

There is great potential for co-operation between Viet Nam and India, especially in renewable energy, a business interaction between the two countries heard in HCM City on December 19.

Taking part in the meeting was a delegation from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) led by Indronil Sengupta of Tata Sons, which visited Viet Nam on December 19-20 to explore new opportunities for economic engagement, investment and trade.

Representing the Vietnamese side were investment and trade promotion officials and business executives from 16 southern cities and provinces, including Can Tho, HCM City, An Giang, Bac Lieu, Binh Duong, Binh Phuóc, Binh Thuan, Hau Giang, Tien Giang, and Tra Vinh.

Dr K Srikar Reddy, the Indian consul general in the city, said: “According to the Foreign Investment Agency of Viet Nam, there are lots of opportunities for investment in infrastructure, power, renewable energy, agro processing, floodwater drainage, textiles, tourism and IT, which I think could be interest of Indian companies present here today.”

There is a lot of potential in the renewable energy sector, which could help expand bilateral trade and investment, he said.

Indian companies such as Tata Power, Shapoorji Pallonji and Suzlon are already working on renewable energy projects in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Soc Trang provinces, he said.

India is particularly focusing on the renewable energy sector domestically, he said.

Reddy said trade between the two countries was doing quite well, growing from US$1.15 billion in 2006-07 to $10.13 billion last year.

“Bilateral trade is expected to grow and achieve the target of $15 billion by 2020 set by the leaders of both countries.”

P. Harish, the Indian ambassador to Viẹt Nam said Indian industry had built unique strengths and capabilities and is keen to enhance its economic engagement with Viet Nam.

Nguyen Thi Huyen Ngoc from the Investment Promotion Centre for South Viet Nam highlighted the Government’s incentives for renewable energy projects and provided a list of wind and solar power projects seeking investment.

Authorities from Ninh Thuan, Can Tho, Kien Giang, and Hau Giang also presented their investment wish lists and the incentives they are offering investors.

Nguyen Duy Linh Thao, director of the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of Kien Giang Province, sought Indian investment in three sectors: hi-tech agriculture and fisheries for export processing, infrastructure at industrial parks, and green energy and waste and wastewater treatment. 

Egyptian firms updated on Vietnam’s investment policy

Vietnam always creates favourable conditions for foreign investors, including those from Egypt, to operate in the country, Vietnamese Ambassador to Egypt Do Hoang Long said at an investment promotion workshop in Cairo on December 20.

During the event, the diplomat highlighted the potential for stronger cooperation in economy and trade between Vietnam and Egypt, saying that the recent State-level visit to Vietnam by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi opened a new stage in bilateral relations.

He briefed participants on Vietnam’s economic development, business environment, investment attraction policies and key exports. 

The ambassador suggested measures to promote economic and trade ties, calling on the two countries’ businesses to participate in trade fairs, exhibitions and investment workshops, thus seeking more business opportunities. 

The Vietnamese Embassy is always willing to help Egyptian firms connect with partners in Vietnam, he affirmed. 

For his part, Secretary General of the Egyptian Business Association, Mohamed Yousef said leaders of the two nations have agreed to enhance bilateral economic relations, which is bringing great benefits to enterprises from both nations. 

Promoting trade cooperation will enhance two-way trade between the two countries, thus strengthening bilateral ties, he added. 

Yousef also took the occasion to introduce Egypt’s investment environment and policies. 

According to Vietnamese commercial counsellor in Egypt Pham The Cuong, Vietnam has exported a number of goods to Egypt including seafood, coffee, pepper, cashew nuts, wooden products, textiles and mobile phones. Two-way trade reached 311.8 million USD in the first 11 months of this year.

Phu Yen proposes solar power projects

The south central province of Phu Yen has asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to approve adding three solar power projects to the Provincial Power Development Planning in 2011-2015 period, with a vision to 2020, a local senior official has said.

According to Tran Huu The, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, once approved, the projects will be put into operation in the second quarter of 2019.

They include the Thanh Long Phu Yen solar power plant, worth nearly 1.16 trillion VND (51 million USD), invested by Thanh Long Electronic Production JSC and the Europlast solar power plant, worth more than 1.21 trillion VND (53.32 million USD), by European Plastic JSC.

They sit on 57 hectares in Thanh An village and 58 hectares in Binh Thang village, respectively, in Son Thanh Dong commune, Tay Hoa district.

The facilities, both with designed capacity of 50 MWp, are expected to generate 76.928 million kWh, and 76.687 million kWh per year, respectively.

The final project is the Phu Khe solar power plant, with total investment exceeding 1.24 trillion VND (54.65 million USD) by VIFA Energy and Trade Company on 55 hectares in the Multi Sector Industrial Park 2 in Hoa Xuan Dong commune, Dong Hoa district.

It has a designed capacity of more than 49 MWp and is expected to generate 76.321 million kWh per year.

Previously in September, the province announced 14 sites with great potential for solar energy development. 

Dao My, chief of the Office of the Committee, said the sites have total area of nearly 5,160ha, covering water surfaces of hydropower reservoirs and in mountainous districts, with capacity expected to reach 3,541MW.

To date, the province has allowed 17 investors to study and make project proposals with total combined capacity of 1,310 MW.

USG Boral to invest additional 20 million USD in Vietnam

USG Boral, a Malaysia-based plasterboards manufacturer, has announced its 20-million-USD investment in a plant at Hiep Phuoc Industrial Zone in HCM City to expand its production in Vietnam. 

The plant will support USG Boral’s commitment to meeting the Vietnamese market’s growing demand for high-quality plasterboards.
The company’s production capacity for plasterboard is currently at 30 million sq.m. The new facility is set to increase production capacity by 17 million sq.m and is targeted to reach a total capacity of 47 million sq.m when it becomes operational in September 2019. 

“We have witnessed a strong growth from this region, so our decision to invest in the plant is a strategic one. This expansion will see USG Boral utilising our latest Sheetrock technology to provide superior-building solutions for Vietnam’s market,” said CEO of USG Boral Frederic de Rougemont.

USG Boral began operations in Vietnam in 2005 and it is the first foreign company with plasterboard manufacturing facilities in the country. Located in the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Zone, Nha Be district, USG Boral’s factory supplies an extensive selection of gypsum board ceiling and wall solutions for modern interior applications in Vietnam.

Kien Giang exports surpass yearly target

The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang earned 470 million USD from exports in 2017, surpassing its target by 17.5 percent, up 43 percent year on year, reported the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.

Le Thi Nhut, Deputy Director of the Department, said the growth was led by increases in the export of aquatic products, which reached 192 million USD, exceeding the target by 32 percent, up 42.5 percent year on year, thanks to growing demand in traditional markets.

Local exporters sought foreign partners and stepped up the use of technology to meet product quality requirements of import markets, while focusing on processing to enhance the added value and competitiveness of their products.

Border trade exchange has been accelerated, contributing to boosting local exports. The locality has also consolidated traditional markets, expanded to new ones and sought partners.

Numerous trade promotion events have been conducted in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Japan, India and in North America.

Provincial authorities have also helped local export firms attend trade fairs and forums at home and abroad so they can introduce their products to potential partners.

Kien Giang enterprises have developed links with those from Australia, New Zealand, and Israel to ship their canned aquatic products to those markets.

In 2018, the province aims to earn 520 million USD from exports. To realise this target, the province plans to produce high-quality shrimp and rice for processing and export.

It will also encourage and help local enterprises to update their technology, equipment and improve production process to improve product quality.

The locality will continue addressing difficulties facing local exporters while boosting trade promotion and expanding export markets for local key products, including rice, aquatic products, pepper and fish sauce, as well as for new products, such as apparel, footwear, wood products and beer.

Switzerland imports over 50% shrimp from VN
     
During the 10-year period (2007-2016), Viet Nam has consistently been the largest shrimp supplier for Switzerland, accounting for over 50 per cent of total Swiss shrimp imports.

This was stated by the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Switzerland accounts for 0.5 per cent of total shrimp import value in the world, mainly importing shrimp for domestic consumption. Each year, this country imports some 8,500 tonnes of shrimp.

Shrimp import in Switzerland was not stable during the 10 years (2007-2016), with the lowest import value in 2007 at US$81.4 million and the highest in 2014 at $144.6 million. In 2014, the value of shrimp imports in this country reached the highest level because the price of shrimp worldwide increased significantly. From 2014 to 2016, the value of shrimp imports into the country showed a tendency to decline.

In the Swiss market, Viet Nam has to compete with Ecuador and other Asian suppliers such as Bangladesh, Thailand and India, although Vietnamese shrimp is more affordable than European suppliers such as Germany, Denmark and France.

Frozen shrimp and sealed bags with processed shrimp are the two main products imported into Switzerland, of which Viet Nam is the largest supplier of these two products.

VASEP said Switzerland offers free import duty on frozen shrimp for all five major sources — Viet Nam, Germany, Denmark, Ecuador and Bangladesh.

In the first three quarters of this year, shrimp imports to Switzerland totaled $87.6 million, a year-on-year increase of 17 per cent. Viet Nam remains the largest supplier, accounting for 59 per cent of total Swiss shrimp imports, followed by Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

Switzerland ranks 10th among Viet Nam’s main shrimp import markets, accounting for 1.03 per cent of the Southeast Asian country’s total shrimp exports to all the markets.

As of November 15, 2017, Viet Nam’s shrimp exports to Switzerland reached $34.3 million, up 17.3 per cent over the same period last year.

VASEP suggested that in light of the current situation, Viet Nam should take advantage of being the largest supplier of shrimp and the zero per cent tariff on exporting shrimp to Switzerland to maintain and promote exports to this market. 

Mobile top channel for VN’s Citi consumer banking clients
     
Mobile Banking overtook other digital channels to become the preferred channel used by Citi’s Asia Pacific and Viet Nam clients in 2017.

Mobile use at Citi has surged in the last 12 months by 48 per cent, making it the fastest growing digital channel.

Viet Nam has recorded 82 per cent year-on-year growth in downloads of the Citi Mobile® App and Citi’s customers have showed strong engagement, with those who actively use the app increasing by 85 per cent year-on-year.

Digital is also growing rapidly as a source of new business at Citi. Digital acquisition in Citi’s credit cards and loans business grew 57 per cent year-on-year, and digital lending currently accounts for 39 per cent of total consumer loans fulfilled by Citi in the region.

For digital acquisition, in Viet Nam, the sum of 2017 digitally acquired cards and digitally acquired loans grew 65 per cent year-on-year. Some 90 per cent of the customers availed Citi Easy cash facility through digital channels. This growth was underpinned by Citi’s digital investments and growth in partnerships on leading digital ecosystems.

Citi has digital credit card partnerships with leading players in Viet Nam, including Lazada, Grab and Adayroi. Additionally, it has partnerships with leaders such as Amazon, Expedia and Airbnb in other countries in the region. 

VIB issues certificates of deposit in Vietnamese đồng
     
The Vietnam International Bank (VIB) has issued certificates of deposit (CD) in Vietnamese dong with attractive interest rates up to 8.7 per cent per year.

These certificates have been issued for personal and corporate customers in a move to meet their investment demand, the bank said in its statement.

According to the bank, when customers apply for a 61-month CD valued at a minimum of VND10 million (US$440), they will enjoy a fixed interest rate of 8.5 per cent, while an 84-month CD will bring them a fixed interest rate of 8.7 per cent.

Customers can also inherit, give and transfer VIB’s CD freely on the secondary market. In urgent cases, customers can use the bank’s CD as collateral for a loan at VIB and enjoy a preferential lending interest rate. Furthermore, it can also be mortgaged for loans at other banks by law.

“Along with the savings account, CD is now one of the investment channels preferred by corporates and personal customers with a large source of finance,” VIB said. 

International fashion fair kicks off in Hà Nội
     
The 21st Viet Nam International Fashion Fair (VIFF) 2017 opened on December 21 at the International Centre of Exhibition in the capital, with the participation of nearly 150 enterprises.

The annual fair houses over 200 booths featuring leading fashion brands in textile and garment, leather footwear, cosmetics, jewellery as well as beauty care services in a total area of 4,000sq.m. It also includes booths showcasing raw materials for the textile and garment sector.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Le Tien Truong, general director of Viet Nam Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), said in recent years, more and more international fashion brands have made their presence in Viet Nam as the country has been deeply integrated into the world market.

Vietnamese garment enterprises are determined to compete equally with foreign rivals in the domestic market by building and positioning their brands. Many of them have been recognised by local consumers thanks to their efforts in improving products’ quality and designs, he said.

The VIFF, which is a traditional activity of the domestic fashion industry, has contributed to the sector’s development and supported businesses over the years in boosting export and trade in the domestic market.

The event is described as a good opportunity for local fashion businesses to meet and seek partners while providing a platform for enterprises and designers to introduce their products to customers.

Co-organised by Viet Nam Exhibition Fair Association Centre (VEFAC), Vinatex, Viet Nam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association, and Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association, the event will wrap up on December 26. 

Govt to launch int’l bond issue

The Government has approved a plan to hold an international bond issue, according to the Government news website.

The Ministry of Finance is drafting a Government decree on sovereign bond sale, registration, deposit, listing and trading. The ministry would be responsible for issuing such bonds.

Revenue from Vietnam’s bond sales on global capital markets will be managed and used in accordance with Article 28 of the Law on Public Debt Management and other relevant legal documents.

The ministry would also directly pay principles and interest for holders of internationally issued bonds.

According to the draft decree, treasury bills would have tenors of 13, 26 and 52 weeks. Other tenors which do not exceed 52 weeks will be decided by the Minister of Finance based on capital demand.

Government bonds would have tenors of 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 and 30 years and other tenors announced by the Ministry of Finance in due course.

The ministry is seeking comment on the draft decree.

Petrolimex invests VND1 trillion to maintain market lead

The Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex), the country’s biggest fuel trader, has plans to invest VND1 trillion (US$44 million) next year to retain its market lead next year amid imminent market changes.

Deputy general director of Petrolimex Nguyen Quang Dung told the Daily on December 19 that the group will acquire more than 70 fuel stations near large projects or along busy roads. This is part of Petrolimex’s plan to keep its leading position on the fuel retail market.

Following the Government’s decision to replace RON 92 gasoline with E5 bio-fuel from January 1 next year, 82% of Petrolimex’s 2,400 gas stations now sell E5, a mixture of 5% ethanol and 95% RON 92 gasoline.

From 2018, 70% of Petrolimex gas stations will sell DO 5. The group said although the price of DO 5 is only VND50 per liter higher than DO 2-3, DO 5 is better for engines and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Petrolimex dominates nearly half of the domestic fuel market. It expects revenue growth of 7% this year and pre-tax profit of more than VND4.7 trillion, up 1% year-on-year.

Bitcoin forecast to fall in next five years

The price of Bitcoin has surged 20 times over the past year to US$17,000 and is forecast to decrease in the next five years, even to zero.

Both Nguyen Viet Bach and Dominik Weil from Bitcoin Vietnam Co Ltd agreed the price of the crypto-currency might soar to US$50,000-100,000 in the coming time.

However, the split over Bitcoin and the competition among digital currencies may reduce the Bitcoin price in the next five years, Bach said.

Lawyer Truong Thanh Duc, chairman of BASICO law firm, said Bitcoin might fall to zero as Vietnamese law does not recognize it as a legal means of payment.

Tran Huu Duc, member of the Vietnam Fintech Club management board, said the Bitcoin market has attracted prestigious financial institutions and that backers want to encourage the wider use of Bitcoin while critics warn of price risk.

The number of people investing in Bitcoin is on the rise. Up to 60,000 people have registered for accounts at Bitcoin Vietnam Co Ltd alone, double last year. In addition, Facebook groups on crypto-currencies and digital assets with huge membership have been established.

Bitcoin has increased four times in just three months, thus attracting more investors, Nguyen Duy Hung, chairman and general director of Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI), told a seminar on Bitcoin and Blockchain on December 20.

Total value of Bitcoin transactions in Vietnam amounts to US$100 million a day, Bach noted.

Technology firms have imported machinery, mainly from China. Nearly 1,500 Bitcoin and Litecoin automatic data processing machines have been shipped to HCMC as of October, according to the HCMC Department of Customs.

Dominik Weil said most investors use Bitcoin to speculate on their assets value without much knowledge of it.

Bitcoin cannot be deemed as a currency at they are not managed by the State Bank of Vietnam and recognized by other countries, said Hung.

He also proposed the Government take measures to prevent Bitcoin from being used to transfer money anonymously.

Consumption promotion fair to feature 400 booths

There will be 240 enterprises showcasing their consumer goods at more than 400 booths at the Consumption Promotion Fair 2017 at Phu Tho Indoor Stadium in District 11, HCMC from December 28 to February 1.

Enterprises will introduce numerous products such as food, beverages, textiles, footwear, automobiles, motorcycles, electric, electronic, telecom and fashion products, household appliances, handicrafts, cosmetics, and furniture.

Consumers can enjoy price discounts of up to 49% on the products on display.

The fair will also include activities to support enterprises in product promotion and a campaign to give free shopping bags to visitors as a way to protect the environment.

Organizers will coordinate with the HCMC market surveillance agency to display fake and real products to help visitors distinguish them.

Sponsors include Heineken Vietnam Brewery , Binh Dien Fertilizer JSC, Vietnam Meat Industries (Vissan), 3A Nutrition (Vietnam) and Minh Long 1.

The fair will be held by the HCMC Center of Supporting Industries Development and directed by the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade. The event, which will wrap up the Promotion Month 2017, is aimed at stimulating consumption and building links between producers and consumers.

Only entities connected to tax offices can use paper receipts

Individuals and organizations may use paper receipts if their retail sales information systems are connected with tax offices, according to a draft decree on goods and services invoices crafted by the Ministry of Finance.

In particular, Article 31 of the draft decree states individuals and organizations whose businesses are related to supermarkets, malls, restaurants and hotels; retail consumer goods and pharmaceuticals; as well as provide food services would be permitted to issue paper receipts.

Notably, enterprises in some special sectors which cannot issue electronic bills would also be included in the list.

The Finance Ministry would be responsible for providing detailed instructions on how to apply receipts through the point of sale system, and defining the special sectors.

The taxman will print a number of receipts which are sold to business individuals and households; startups that have yet to issue e-bills; and enterprises which are likely to evade taxes.

However, startups are merely permitted to use paper receipts within one year from the date of their establishment. Afterwards, they are obliged to use e-bills with or without the taxman’s codes.

Meanwhile, those beyond the aforesaid groups would use e-bills with, or without the taxman’s codes if they meet technical infrastructure conditions.

Earlier, the Finance Ministry proposed enterprises would use e-receipts instead of paper ones early next year. This was a big worry for many companies, as they would have a short period of time to prepare.

Tima reports strong P2P lending growth after two years of trial operation

Tima Group JSC on December 21 reported strong growth in peer-to-peer (P2P) loans after it test launched its P2P lending platform in 2015.

Outstanding loans provided through the platform have amounted to over VND15 trillion (US$660.4 million).

Tima, a startup in the financial technology sector in Hanoi City, connects the borrower and the lender in a quick and convenient manner thanks to the platform. Tima has around 5,000 local lenders and over 800,000 borrowers active on its platform.

Tima looks to become the largest P2P lending platform in Vietnam.

A Tima representative said the company handles over 1,000 new loan requests on a daily basis. It plans to expand its platform across the country so that it can receive 10,000 loan requests a day.

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